Travel Tuesday…advice and opinions

Advice and Opinions

Europe and UK.

In less than three weeks, I will be boarding a plane for my very first overseas trip!

Most of you who have been following a while already know about my trip, but some of my new readers might have missed it.

Over spring break, the hubby and I and our three teenagers are flying to Amsterdam and will have about 2 1/2 days there.

Then we are taking the train to Paris and will have about 3 1/2 days there.

I’m not gonna lie, while I’m extremely excited, I’m also very nervous.

I like my little comfort zone.

I drive the same square around town… gym…grocery store…. middle school….high school…home.

But this was the year to continue to press outside of my comfort zone.

And what better way than to fly across the world! πŸ™‚

Travel History.

We’ve done quite a bit of traveling around the East Coast of the United States but always wanted to take the kids to Europe before the oldest left for college.

He’s now 17 and a junior in high school so we figured it was time.

The kids have not been on a plane since they ranged from ages 2-6.

I have never been outside of the continental U.S. and figured it was about time for me to travel too!

Your Thoughts?

I have savedΒ and read through many “must see” lists and itineraries on my Pinterest account, but I wanted to get my reader’s opinions on what you all think should be on my list.


Keukenhof Gardens has been a regular recommendation.

I definitely want to see fields of tulip blooms since we will be there in April.

For those that have visited the gardens, do you think this would hold the interest of 13,15, and 17 year-olds?

Any opinions on Zaanse Schanse?

I understand that our time is limited and I don’t want to try to pack too much in.

We will be staying near Vondelpark and I know that the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum are nearby.

I really wanted to take the kids to the Anne Frank house, but when I checked for tickets 3 weeks ahead, they are sold out.

Given our short time there, if the line has a multiple hour wait, this won’t be an option.


Of course, Paris is also filled with more than we can fit into our time as well.

We are considering a day trip out of town to see some more of the country.

We considered the Chateaux’s of the Loire Valley, but once I realized that was were Fontevraud Abbey was located (I am intrigued by Eleanor of Aquitaine), I’m thinking that needs to be its own trip.

One of the children has asked if we are visiting the Palace of Versailles since they have learned about that in history class.

If you have visited the Palace, do you think this makes a nice day trip out of Paris?



I am also working on my Scotland trip with my mother.

We are considering moving it up to the end of May.

It just works better for me if my kids are still in school.


The tentative plan is to fly to Edinburgh and then we have 6 1/2 days before flying out.

The dilemma is that we want to see it all….and cannot.

We want to make our way to the Isle of Skye, which is a huge time allocation.

We also will not be driving a car.

I’m not prepared this early into my international traveling to drive on the opposite side of the road on skinny, winding roads.


Besides our time in Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye (probably staying nearby as I think all the hotels there are already booked), I think we really would like to add in Stirling and Glen Coe and whatever else we can squeeze in (Doune Castle… I’m a Game of Thrones fan).

If I had all the time in the world, I would want to see Old Castle Lachlan since we know that we have McLachlan ancestors.

And of course, all the other beautiful castles.


We will be traveling to Airdrie, hoping to get a glimpse of some of the areas that our family lived.

We think we are pretty confident of the church where Agnes McLachlan and James Scott (my great-great grandparents) were married.


Also, we will be checking out the surrounding area of Glasgow where other family lived.

A few of the other surnames that we are working on are Scott, Baird, Munn, and Johnston.

Of course, most of those surnames have areas that they originate from as well.

In all likelihood, we will need to plan more than 1 visit. πŸ™‚

Until we have a general plan around our itinerary, we can’t book the hotel rooms.

More Advice.

So I am seeking your input.

What would be on your absolutely “must see and do” list if you were in Scotland?

And relying on public transport and taxis!

Thank you all so much ahead of time for any comments you have to offer!

Any tips on travel, avoiding jet lag, packing, and amazing places to eat (we are foodies)… add those too!

Let your light shine!


31 thoughts on “Travel Tuesday…advice and opinions

  1. How exciting! I think the whole family would enjoy getting ice cream at Berthillon in Paris and exploring Montmartre and the Jardin des Tuileries. It’s cool to go up in Eiffel Tower, but I just got a little claustrophobic on the elevator because it was really crowded. Keep an eye on your kids around the base of the Eiffel because there are lots of people walking around trying to sell stuff. I haven’t been to your other destinations, but they’re on my bucket list. Bon voyage! πŸ™‚

  2. Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention the Palace of Versailles! I think the family would really enjoy it. I especially loved the gardens. There’s also a Laduree gift shop on the grounds if you want to pick up some French macarons! πŸ˜‰

  3. Hi Amy, your plans look very ambitious to me where you may end up spending a lot of time traveling rather than being present somewhere long enough to really enjoy it. The Keukenhof may not be ideal for your kids unless they love looking at many flowers in an often crowded park. Versailles is beautiful and well worth a visit, although there is so much else to see and do in Paris itself. You will know what is most important for you during your Scottish trip and if you want to include the Isle of Skye you may end up losing two days in travel alone and miss out on some of the places with family connections. Leave some room for spontaneity, you may decide you want to spend more time in one place or go somewhere/see something you had not thought of before. Have fun! :o)

    1. Thanks so much for your advice! I was concerned about Keukenhof for the same reasons that you mentioned. We thought the day trip to Versailles may just be a good way to break up the hustle and bustle of Paris. We have not spent much time in big cities.

      I do think that there is no way to see everything we’d like to on our trip to Scotland. My mother thinks that it may be her trip of a lifetime. I’m trying to convince her that we’ll just have to return again and again πŸ˜‰

  4. Ooh, have an excellent trip!!!! So fun! 😊 Hope you enjoy your first trip to Europe! Since you’re spending such a short time in Paris, I don’t want to pour all my ideas here, but let me just say: Paris = bakeries, crΓͺpes, mΓ©tro, and leisurely strolling small streets.

  5. What a fun family vacation coming up. πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

    I have been to Amsterdam, Paris and Scotland loved all of it. I wrote a good post about “Paris” and a separate one about the palace of “Versailles”, you might want to check it out. Both posts have a lot of pictures to give you a sense of the place.

    I personally think you should invest a whole day for Versailles. There is not just the palace but the gardens as well. They are very widely spread and have different sections to it, you can spend easily a day there. It really is a place you actually need to go back to several times, there is so much too see. (Maybe rent bikes to make it more fun?)

    Go to “Angelina’s” in Paris for hot chocolate for the kids. They will love it!

    Edinburgh is a cool city. If your kids are up to it, book a ghost tour at night. It is seriously spooky.

    Go up to the “Arthurs seat” (for free) for a good overlook of the city. Nice view from up there plus the hike makes the kids tired. πŸ˜‰

    You also could go on a day tour to the Northern border of England and visit a castle that was used in “Harry Potter”. That might get your kids attention.

    The surrounding scenery is stunning. Most of the times day trips to that castle get combined with a stop at a tiny church that was used in the movie “the da Vinci code”. That is also really neat to see, called the “Rosslyn chapel”.

    In Amsterdam of course you need to see Keukenhof. It is exquisite. I guess half a day would do, considering the kids. Make sure you see the “Anne Frank house”. I think your kids are old enough for it, it is important to see and to know. Maybe combine it with making them read the book or watch the movie, to understand it better?

    Anyways, I would try to see a lot but also leave space for flexibility. Even if you are just walking, especially in Paris, you see A LOT!

    Make sure everybody wears good comfortable shoes, you will walk a lot. Again, especially in Paris!

    If you have more questions, go ahead. Otherwise, have fun and safe travels! You are in for a treat!

    The island of Skye is really picturesque! We booked a four day tour with “Rabbies tours” which was very good.

  6. How exciting, Amy! Happy travel. πŸ™‚
    The trip to London and Paris was our first Europe trip. I haven’t been Scotland and would love to visit the place.

    1. Thank you Amy! We are looking forward to getting a glimpse of Europe. I’m sure that it’ll make me want to return over and over. I think Scotland will make me feel that way too! πŸ™‚

  7. What a lovely trip! I lived in Belgium, and frequently traveled to those destinations. As Paris goes, Versailles is a day trip since it’s on the outskirts of Paris and there’s a lot to see inside the city it’self. But then again…you can’t go all the way to Europe with your family without visiting a castle πŸ™‚

  8. When in Paris a visit to Palace of Versailles is definitely worth the effort. It’s a short trip out of Paris so doesn’t feel like you’ve been traveling for two days to simply get there and back in one. When we were there we took a tractor-trailer around the gardens with the children which was a great. Although all they remember is sitting in the trailer waiting out a hail storm, lol!

    As for Paris itself, walking around Notre Dame and the Seine nearby since that area has been featured in so many movies. You may even be lucky enough to score a crepe-making street-vendor whilst there! A visit to one of the arrondissements fresh produce streets which resembles a farmer’s market but is the everyday Parisian life would be fabulous if time permits. We found the assortment of shellfish, wild fowl and cheese absolutely mind-blowing.

    Good luck with all your planning!

    1. Thanks Joanne! Notre Dame and the Seine are definitely on my “must see” list. I’ve heard that the crepes…and actually all food… is amazing in Paris.
      It’s funny what the children remember, but I guess I hail storm would definitely create a lasting memory! πŸ™‚

  9. I knew you’d get plenty of recommendations πŸ™‚ So exciting!

    Isle of Skye is a place I really, really wanna go πŸ™‚

  10. A couple thoughts have I… I think Versailles is not to be missed. In Paris itself, two things I remember clearly was walking along the Seine and seeing the artists setup and working or selling their work, and the crepes! In Scotland, Doune Castle was one our favorite stops. We were on bicycles, so traffic was not a big concern… If you like cheese, you must stop in at Iain J. Melli’s Cheesemonger Shop in either Edinburgh or Glasgow!!! lots of free sampling to be done!!!

    1. We think that Versailles is definitely on our list for Paris. Doune Castle was on my Scotland list, partially because I’m a Game of Thrones fan. I do LOVE cheese. Thanks so much for the recommendation as I don’t think that would have ever occurred to me. πŸ™‚

  11. Amy, having to teens of my own (19 and 16) I would advise not too pack too much into the days. I can really only give advise about Paris with kids. Do the day trip to Versailles! It is so much worth a visit and can be easily reached by train from the city center. Also your kids will love it. Book advanced tickets via the web to save some in line standing. Going up Eiffel Tower is a must as well. Also a walk up Montmarte towards Sacre Coeur. Notre Dame Cathedral (my kids loved climbing up to the tower), and a must see is the Sainte Chapelle that is now in the Palace of Justice. A must see, one of the most beautiful churches in the world. Enjoy your trip! Marcus

    1. Thanks so much for the advice Marcus! We think that we are definitely going to do the day trip down to Versailles. I had not heard of Sainte Chapelle. I will have to look into that! πŸ™‚ -Amy

  12. When you’re in Edinburgh do go to Mary King’s Close, Gladstone’s Land, Georgian House and the botanical gardens. And of course there’s the castle! And wander….

  13. Oh my gosh, Amy!! Congratulations. I love and appreciate how you and your husband are taking your kids to Paris and Amsterdam. What a lovely education.

    Palace of Versailles is an easy, beautiful day trip. It’s absolutely worth seeing. However, as Xenia (of WhippetWisdom) mentions, there is so much to do in Paris. Still, having said that, it’s a neat way to make history come alive / real for your kids, and they also asked about it.

    I’m sure you’ll work it out. Allow some time if you can to sit at a cafe and have a chocolate croissant! πŸ™‚

    Have a fantastic fantastic trip!
    Love and Blessings,

    1. Thank you!
      I think we will see lots of lovely things that will make us want to return again and again as there is definitely not enough time to do it all! πŸ™‚
      We are leaning toward a day trip to Versailles depending on the weather forecast during our time there, but are definitely planning for plenty of downtime to just take in the gorgeous scenery! πŸ™‚

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